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Cannot keep my A-Maze-mn 5X8 lit..

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mikedaub, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    So... I am having some problems keeping my A-MAZE-N 5X8 lit while in my MES30.. Quick story and set up..

    Currently run a MES30. Bought the 5x8 about a year ago. First time I used it, worked perfectly and loved it. Because of who I am, I saw a sale on pellets, and bout 80 pounds, and 5 pounds of sawdust. And now, for the last 5 or 6 smokes, I can't keep it lite for more than 5 minutes once its in the smoker..

    My routine: I fill the smoker up (the last 3 or 4 smokes have been using pit master blend), lite it up with a torch, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. I would guess that 3 or 4 minutes of that there is flames, I blow that out and let it sit and smoke to get a good coal going. I then put it in the MES30 on the bottom left, right next to the smoker box in the smoker. I feel like I read somewhere that it was designed to work there, because it fit perfectly.

    Now, once its in there, it goes out in about 5 minutes or less. To me, that tells me that its not getting enough oxygen. I have read on this forum a bunch, and have tried all kinds of things. I pull the chip tray out of the smoker, the loader tube 1/4 out, 1/2 out, 3/4 out, chip tray in, same deal with the loader. The only thing I have never tried was the chip tube all the way out because my mind tells me the head will just pump out that hole and won't help with cooking.

    So, what am I missing/doing wrong? I know I could possible do the mail-box mod, but I don't want to go through that hassle. I would like to get this all up and running, and not have to worry about it. I like the product, I think the smoke the pellets provide is great (as seen by how many I bought), but I just need to figure out how to get this working in my set up..

  2. tropics

    tropics Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Hey Mike your location would help us help you,elevation the 5x8 does not work that well.
    So for air flow raise the tray up you can drill holes or use spring binder clips like I did.
    Works in the smoker as well as in the mailbox
  3. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    I live in Maine, so about 450 feet of elevation..

    I can't really drill holes, as its in the main chamber of my MES30. Unfortunately, I don't have, and would prefer not to use the Mailbox Mod.. Not sure where else I would put the 5x8 in my smoker, unless I take up one of the grilling racks with it.
  4. Winterrider

    Winterrider Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    If you haven't yet, try microwaving the pellets. May be some moisture issues. Go about a min, let cool a bit and then another min. See what happens.
  5. fivetricks

    fivetricks Smoking Fanatic

    If you can't/won't use the mailbox, perhaps try rigging a little computer fan next to the chip loader inlet. This would add draft and preserve the heat
  6. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    I thought of that. They are in the box/bag they came in, in a heated basement at about 50 % humidity, so maybe that's it.

    I don't own a microwave, so will give it a shot int he oven at a lower temp for a bit .
  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  8. Winterrider

    Winterrider Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    If drying them out a little works, if you have room put a pan full on top rack when you do next smoke then store in air tight container for the next time. No need to fire up the oven.
  9. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    Thanks for this info.. I appreciate it. It looks like I am on the right track, but the biggest thing is, 1)I fill the pellets right up to the top of the 5x8 (but not enough so that it jumps over and prematurely starts the next row) and 2)I usually light the pellets, and blow the flame out pretty quickly, once a little coal is going. Generally, I turn on the smoker to get it up to temp, lights the pellets, prep the meat and stuff it all in the smoker at the same time.

    I have a 7.5lb brisket going in tonight, so I will try drying them out a bit first (maybe that's the issue), letting the red coals grow bigger by letting the flame lit longer, and work with the chip loader as mentioned and report back tomorrow..

    Thanks for the help all.. I really appreciate it.
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Be sure the exhaust is wide open... Turn the chip chute to the dump position and have it pulled out about 1.5"... That opens the airway to the smoker.. See if removing the chip pan helps with the airway situation...
  11. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    Thanks.. Yes, my exhaust is open 100% of the time. I learned that trick a while ago when someone called the MES30 a Sauna, which it truly is.
  12. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    Quick update from last night's smoke..

    I reused the pellets that didn't burn on my Sunday go around, but first, I put them in my toaster oven at 375 for about 20 minutes. I wanted to make sure they were nice and dry. Loaded up the 5x8 and let it burn for about 20-25 minutes. At that point, I blew out the flame, pushed the coals a bit closer together, and shifted pellets to keep it nice and clean/tight in the rows. The brisket was already in the smoker for about 20 minutes, so I put the 5x8 in, and away it went. At first the smoke just kinda "trickled" out I was tempted to do something, but I didn't and just let it sit. After about 20 minutes you could see the smoke pouring out. I do notice, smoke from that is less intense than from standard chips (which is also why I think I like the taste better). After 2 or so hours, it was still rolling, so I went to bed (I like to smoke things while I sleep, so I wake up to a almost done, ready to go hunk of meat). When I woke up and checked thing, there was no more smoke coming out, so I just assumed it burned itself through the pellets. When I opened the smoker to pull the meat out, I noticed that only 1 of 3 rows burned. It looks as if it never turned the first corner. I can say though, that corner was sitting right below the end of the brisket, so not sure if anything dripping (and missing the water pan) got onto the pellets and had an effect.

    So, it is getting better. Seems like the letting it burn longer before blowing out helped. I can say, with my MES30, I can't turn the chip loaded once it is pulled out a bit. There are alignment gauges inside that don't let me, so I just had it pulled out about 3-4". Now, that I got the first portion burning, any thoughts/suggestions on having the burn make the turn? Again, the first time I ever used it, it burned 100% completely down, no problems. Now, it just baffles me since I have some experience with it..
  13. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hi Mike!
    Sounds like it's getting better.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "pushing coals closer together" or "shifting Pellets". because once mine is lit properly, I don't do anything to disturb the coals or the pellets.

    As for not being able to turn your chip dumper, can you pull it all the way out, then turn it 180°, and push it back in---stopping with it still out 2" or 3"??

    And For your Gen #1 MES, below is how I protect mine from drippings. That's an upside down foil pan cut in half, above my AMNPS.:


  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    OOOPS, I missed the Turn problem:

    Was your turn packed tighter or looser than the rest?
    Maybe filled higher or lower?
    You could try turning the AMNPS around, so the first turn is at the other end. It should be going better by the time it gets to the second turn.

    That never happens to me, because I never go away or go to sleep, while my MES is going.
    Some have caught on fire, and my MES is on my Wood front porch under a Wood Ceiling, attached to an ALL WOOD House.

  15. smokerjim

    smokerjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    did you clean your amnps sometimes the air holes get clogged up, I have a mes 30 also, had same problems your having, tried everything could never get it to burn all the way, some people on here have no problems, I know you don't want to go the mailbox route but that was the best thing I did.
  16. Winterrider

    Winterrider Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Switch to dust. All you will lose is about 2 hrs on a full load compared to pellets.
    mikedaub likes this.
  17. phil brown

    phil brown Fire Starter

    I had to do a lot of fiddling before I figured out how to get my AMNPS and my MES to get along. This is what I do:

    I load up the AMNPS with 15 oz. of pellets and stick it in the oven at 300F while I'm getting the smoker ready. It usually spends 20-30 minutes in there. Then I pull it out and light one end on fire. I set a timer for ten minutes. If it starts smoldering before ten minutes is up, I relight it. I leave a 1" gap in the chip tray and the loader. Last, but not least, I use a chimney. This is the only way I could maintain a draft in the MES. You can buy one, or you can stick a couple soup cans together.

    I still haven't done the mailbox mod, which really seems to be the ultimate fix, but this method has worked for me for several years.
  18. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds Good, Phil !!
    Everybody ends up with their own little tweaks that work for them.
    It all ends up good.

  19. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    Once the coals started to burn, they weren't super tight in the 5x8 anymore, as they spread out a bit. I pushed all the ash/coals towards the hole in the end just so I could pack more pellets in there for more smoke.

    I will take a picture later, but no, my chip loader only will go in the hole one way. It will make sense once I add some images tonight..

    I like the pan covering.. that might help..
  20. mikedaub

    mikedaub Fire Starter

    I would have to check it tonight to see if the turn was tighter or looser packed. I would guess it was about the same, as I try to fit as many pellets in there as possible.